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Thread: Deterrence as an Operational Objective question

  1. #1
    Officer of Engineers
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    Deterrence as an Operational Objective question

    Colonel Blasko made an observation a while back that to the Chinese, deterrence is an OPOBJ. That the Chinese will engage in military action against a smaller enemy in order to deter a larger enemy. The obvious example of this was the 1979 1st Sino-VN War in which the Chinese attacked Vietnam to deter a Soviet attack on them.

    I got into a mini debate with a Chinese poster who saw nothing out of the ordinary about this and this has been the case for military history. I counter that I cannot think one single war dating back to the Nile-Hittie Wars in Western military history that would be the case.

    However, for the Chinese, this has been normal practice ever since Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Chapter 3 to be precise.

    So, the question, has anyone outside of China fought small wars in order to deter a larger one?

  2. #2
    Senior Contributor Mihais's Avatar
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    Sir,if we consider only your question the answer would be YES.Every preventive war is pursued with this purpose in mind.
    If you think about Sun Tzu's calls for attacking the origin of the enemy plan and breaking the opposing alliance again there are plenty examples.
    However,if you think only about a Side A attacks the smaller Side B in order to prevent a war with Side C scenario,I could think of the British Mysore and Mahratta wars in late 18-early 19 century that had among other reasons the annihilation of French projects in India,the Great Game played with the Russians in Central Asia,Napoleon's campaigns up until 1812 and the list could go on.

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    Russian war in Georgia last year? Nato's bombing of Serbia in 1999?

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    Only if nato/US was intended to attack mother russia, which not the case in both counts.

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    Was USSR intended to attack China in 1979?

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    Military Professional Deltacamelately's Avatar
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    Sir,

    We have debated this before and I am still to see a equal parallel to the PLA's doctrine.
    The strange thing is, the PLA isn't actually thinking about a protracted or a limited war with a smaller adversary. The Col is clearly pointing that the PLA is comfortable thinking about an all out war with a smaller foe just to deter a mightier one.

    I have a BIG question -
    Is the PLA psychologically ready, implementing it against a weaker but a nuclear capable country?
    And on the sixth day, God created the Field Artillery...

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    Senior Contributor Mihais's Avatar
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    http://china-defense.blogspot.com/20...post.html.Just found these videos of a recent lecture by Col. Blasko.

    Or this links-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOGW0HC0v44
    Last edited by Mihais; 19 Jun 09, at 19:25.

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    So, the question, has anyone outside of China fought small wars in order to deter a larger one?
    Sir, how about the Vietnam War? US fought a Soviet proxy in order NOT to fight the Soviet Union. I guess it was not as direct as the Chinese doctrine. But the geopolitical implications were similar.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    Patron Equilibrium's Avatar
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    It could be argued that the initial phase of World War I was base don deterring inteventions of major powers by faits accompli. The Austro Hungarians sought to preempt the anticipated Russian intervention by conquering Serbia in a short amount of time to deter the Russian intervention.

    The German offensive in the West was designed to knowck France out of the war before the Russians could fully mobilize to redeploy the bulk of the Geman forces in the East to deter the Russians from attacking Germany.


    Gunnut's Vietnam example is valid, it represented an era where American strategic thinking emphasized the conception of limited war as "counterforce" to Soviet attempts to expand its influence while seeking to avoid a cataclysmic confrontation.

    Korea became a deterrent after China intervened; Korea had to be defended to maintain the US' credibility against Soviet aggression in the West and perceived Chinese expansion in the East.

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    Administrator Tarek Morgen's Avatar
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    I am somewhat afraid that I misunderstand the concept in question, but would not every "punishment expidition" in imperial warfare fall under this category? An Empire with limited ressource, able to defeat all smaller enemies at (or within) its border seperated, but not together, launches a massive and cruel campaign against a single of them, to discourage others from taking up arms.

    If this would fall under the mentioned category, one can find many western examples from the Roman Empire due the colonial times, but I assume there is something wrong with my idea since nobody else mentioned it before me.

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    I’m not sure if OOE’s point is a valid premise for discussion, but if OOE’s and Gunnut's are both relevant, it is really bad luck for Vietnam, chosen twice. Indeed some people are calling for a war with Vietnam to partly settle the Spratly dispute, because despite many claims by different countries on the islands, Vietnam makes the most activities in that place and the least restraints. But if a war is ever fought over that matter, it won’t be a deterrence of any one.

    Sun Tzu lived in the warring period when a few dozen countries, kingdoms, dukedoms, or lands ruled by counts, viscounts fought with one another for survival, dominance, supremacy and finally one ruler over the whole land, conspiracies and plots were common practices. At first a war had to have a just cause and authorization from the king of Zhou dynasty, otherwise other countries could make interference to punish the invader to maintain order, later the order collapsed, countries just acted on their own interests. Sun Tzu and his master witnessed all these to develop arts for these rulers to defeat enemies, not to win supremacy. Disciples of Sun Tzu's master helped different countries, one of them met his death in Sun Tzu's hand, people believe Sun Tzu was justified. I believe if any war in future is ever fought by China, it has to be justified.

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    Some people are not ever clear about the dynasty Sun Tzu lived in. It is China’s Zhou dynasty which lasted for 800 years. At first, there was only one king, the king of Zhou. After the establishment of Zhou, the king divided the land among his relatives and ministers to be ruled by dukes, counts, viscounts and other junior titles. Only the king of Zhou could authorize a war to discipline the trouble maker. Later, with the waning power of Zhou and the waxing of other countries, Zhou lost its grasp. The turning point was in周幽王’s time, when the king got a beauty named Baosi. The beauty never laughed and the king made all efforts to make her laugh.After all failures, the king came up with a new project. He ordered fire at night and smoke in the day ignited on watch towers, a signal that the capital was in great danger and rulers in other countries had to come to the rescue. When they arrived, they found it was a joke, the beauty really laughed, but the helping troops went away with indignation.

    Later, when the capital was really under siege by a northern alien tribe, fire and smoke signals were sent, but no one came to help, thinking it was a joke again. The capital was sacked, and the king had to move his capital east, that was the beginning of East Zhou to be different from West Zhou, and the beginning of warring states. Sun Tzu lived in the later part of the dynasty, people say, there was no justified war in that age.

  13. #13
    Officer of Engineers
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    Quote Originally Posted by middle earth View Post
    Some people are not ever clear about the dynasty Sun Tzu lived in.
    Knock it off. There are ethnic Chinese here who grew up with the stories.

  14. #14
    Officer of Engineers
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    People,

    Allow me to clarify my point. Vietnam is on China's southern border. The USSR was on China's northern border. So, in effect, the WWI examples do not apply. Austria-Hungary and Germany wanted the advantage of position to deter a Western response. In short, they wanted to superior ground to deny any advantage to any opposing army's advance.

    There is no such parallel in the 1979 1st Sino-VN War. How many armies Vietnam could kill could not and did not affect one single Chinese army prepared to received the Soviet Army.

    While I understand you are trying to match strategic conditions, you are all ignoring the tactical and operational realities attached to this doctrine.

    Major, to answer your question. I don't know except maybe a proxy (ie Pakistan) against India but then, the PLA had absolutely no confidence in the 1980s in Pakistan in prevailing against India and hence had to plan an all out war.

  15. #15
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    Gunnut,

    The Domino Effect was the explaination for the Vietnam War and there's a problem with your interruptation. The US could have won that war hands down (face it people, there is no way Vietnam could have stopped a 500,000 man USArmy determined to march to Hanoi). However, the US retreat increased the likelihood of war against the USSR, not reduced it.

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